On the outside, NCIS may seem like any other popular crime show. If you take an in-depth look into the show, you will find that the writer’s include many hidden references to the personal lives of the characters. This can include references to previous careers, previous acting experiences, childhood experiences, and much more. Some of these references may be coincidences but most have been secretly hidden for only true NCIS fans to uncover.
Pauley Perette plays forensic specialist Abby Scuito. Before she began her acting career, she studied criminology. She may have continued on to a career in forensics just like her character on the show. Outside of the show, Perette is a member of the band, Fear. One of her songs can be heard in the finale of season 6. This song is part of the NCIS soundtrack. Also featured on the NCIS soundtrack is Cote De Pablo. De Pablo portrays Mossad Liaison Officer Ziva David on the show. In the opening scene of season 6, David is shown performing a song for a Moroccan audience while on an undercover mission for Mossad. This song is a cover of Tom Waits’ Temptation and is featured on the soundtrack. In her earlier career, De Pablo was an aspiring singer from Argentina. Unlike her character, she is not from Israel. Both of these women have not been referred to often throughout the show so hopefully the writers incorporate more into new episodes.
Dr. Donald “Ducky” Mallard, the chief medical examiner, is played by David McCallum. Although this has not been confirmed, the name, Dr. Donald Mallard, may be derived from Dr. Donald Duck. He was a doctor in Scotland where the character happens to be from. In one specific episode, Special Agent Caitlin “Kate” Todd asked Special Agent Gibbs what Ducky looked like when he was younger. Gibbs replied, “Illya Kuryakin”. Illya Kuryakin was the character McCallum played on the popular show, The Man from U.N.C.L.E. Who knows what other David McCallum references will be found.
Sean Murray embodies the role of Special Agent Timothy McGee on NCIS. In real life, Murray is the step son of producer, Donald P. Bellisario. Bellisario has stated that his choice for McGee’s character was not based on his relationship with Murray. He won the role because of his acting ability. McGee’s sister on the show is his actual step sister in real life. All of the computers he is seen working on are all from Dell. They sponsor all of the computers shown on the show. Aside from being an NCIS agent, McGee is also a bestselling crime novelist. He used a pseudonym of his name on the show as the author of his novel (Thom E. Gemcity). The novel he wrote, Deep Six, is actually the title of a real novel by Clive Cussler. Maybe there will be more Sean Murray references in future episodes.
The role of Special Agent Anthony Dinozzo is played by Michael Weatherly. In the show, Tony was cut off from his inheritance by his extraordinarily wealthy parents. Michael Weatherly was also denied inheritance from his wealthy family. His parents did not approve of his choice of pursuing acting. In another episode, Dinozzo said, “I’ve got a better chance of hooking up with Jessica Alba than these guys do of infiltrating SeaLift.” In real life, Michael Weatherly had been engaged to Jessica Alba so you can infer that they have actually “hooked up”. There are probably more Michael Weatherly allusions waiting to be found in numerous episodes.
Mark Harmon plays Special Agent Leroy Jethro Gibbs on the show. During one of the episodes, Gibbs picked up a football and threw it back to a group of kids. This referred to his college football career. Before he became an actor, he was the quarterback for UCLA’s football team. Also, Gibbs is often seen working on a boat in his basement. Some of the tools he works with are his own personal tools. The shirts he wears in his basement are normally given to him by law enforcement agencies throughout the country. In the opening credits for the first few seasons, a scene is shown where a boat is shown going under the Golden Gate Bridge. This scene is from the opening credits of The Presidio which starred Mark Harmon. Finally, when Gibbs was attempting to complete a crossword puzzle, he asked Special Agent Dinozzo for a television drama with eight letters. He answered by saying, “St. Elsewhere”. Harmon played Dr. Bobby Caldwell on this series. NCIS fans should definitely be ready to find more Mark Harmon references in episodes to come.
The person who is referred to most throughout the episodes is not even a character. Donald P. Bellisario is the producer and creator of NCIS. Leroy Jethro Gibbs’ character name is derived from his brother’s name (Leroy) and his father’s middle name (Jethro). Also, if you look closely at the most wanted wall on the NCIS set, you can see a picture of Bellisario. He made a cameo appearance in of the episodes as well. During one of the episodes, Tony Dinozzo mentioned that two of his favorite television shows were Airwolf and Magnum P.I. Both of these shows were created by Bellisario. The names of these shows can also be seen on lunchboxes inside of the victim’s homes in season 1. Many NCIS fans wonder what Donald P. Bellisario reference will come next.
USA Today said, “Beyond the characters, NCIS offers playful allusions about its cast.” This statement is absolutely true. These allusions allow viewers to do their own undercover research of the show. Deb Beauregard said, “I love how the writers integrate the references into the shows. It’s not forced and it fits perfectly into the show.” You’ll never know when the writers are going to add these allusions, and you might not catch them all. All in all, the references give viewers the chance to go on their own investigation into the lives of the NCIS cast.